Syria has threatened to shoot down Turkish fighter jets if they fly into its airspace, Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal al-Mekdad, warned.
The threat follows the massing of Turkish troops on the Syrian border and official threats to strike Syria’s Kurdish militia the YPG. Turkey’s President Erdogan has repeatedly warned of an imminent incursion in Afrin after Washington said it would help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish YPG militia, set up a new 30,000-strong border force.
The plan has infuriated Turkey, which considers the Syrian YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey and the United States.
Syrian officials responded by warning Turkey that it would down Turkish fighter jets and bombers that flew into its airspace.
“We warn that the Syrian Air Force is ready to destroy Turkish air targets in the skies of Syria,” Al Mekdad was quoted as saying by the official SANA news agency.
“If they [Turkey] start fighting in the region of Afrin” added Al Mekdad “it will be seen as an aggression by the Turkish army against the sovereignty of Syria.” The Minister went on to warn Ankara against a military incursion saying it would be “no picnic” for Turkey.